The Barnett Government will hand responsibility for building and maintaining State schools to private industry for the first time in WA.
Under a public private partnership scheme, a private company will finance, design and build eight schools on the outskirts of Perth for $370 million and then maintain them for 25 years.
Education Minister Peter Collier called yesterday for expressions of interest to build primary schools in Landsdale, Alkimos, Baldivis and Byford by 2017 and secondary schools in Ellenbrook, Lakelands, Hammond Park and Harrisdale, to open between 2018 and 2023.
He said the schools would still be government-owned and the Education Department would handle all education services.
Payments would begin when a school was operational and money deducted if performance measures were not achieved.
The company would manage services such as waste disposal, gardening, cleaning and security.
Tender documents show companies might also profit from extra services such as day care before and after school or leasing out sporting facilities.
Unions claimed privatising WA schools was an abdication of responsibility that would lead to poorer services while companies skimmed off profits.
United Voice secretary Carolyn Smith said privatising cleaning and gardening in the 1990s was disastrous, leading to low-paid contractors and dirtier schools. "These are big businesses who don't do it as a favour to the WA public, they are there to make a profit," she said.
State School Teachers Union president Pat Byrne said the Government was again trying to shirk responsibility for funding quality public education.
Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said Labor decided against the PPP model when in power because it would have led to higher recurrent costs.
"This is a way of avoiding upfront costs but adding to expense in future years," he said. "My main concern is taxpayers being burnt in the long term by a Government with a record of poor deal-making for privatisation."